Fear, anger, depression and satisfaction are the four physiologically grounded human emotions. There are also secondary emotions such as guilt, gratitude, elation, nostalgia, love and shame, which are thought to be acquired during the process of socialization (one’s social upbringing). All of these emotions play a dramatic role in determining your mental and physical health. Below are specific ways in which emotions affect your health – some commonly known, and some which will likely surprise you.
Chronic negative emotions and stress in particular, can increase your chances of developing depression. This may not come as a big surprise, but did you know that hormones which are released during stress can contribute to a gradual decline in mental health and chronic high stress levels can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia? In addition, some scientists speculate that high stress levels can lead to hallucinations, delusions and a worsening of Schizophrenic symptoms. Negative emotions can also affect your mental capacity and lead to an inability to concentrate and marked forgetfulness.
In addition to impacting your mental health, your emotions also have a profound impact on your immune system. Scientists have found that negative emotions reduce antibody levels and lower the ability of your immune system to ward-off sickness and disease. Conversely, optimistic people who regularly experience positive emotions have stronger immune systems and are better able to resist infections such as the flu.
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Negative emotions such as those caused by stress, worrying, fear, tension and depression, are arguably the biggest cause of short-term or intermittent sleep problems. These emotions cause anxiety and anxiety leads to a hyperarousal of the nervous system, which leads to restlessness, excessive brain chatter and an inability to fall asleep. Not surprisingly, negative emotions are also the cause of at least 50 percent of all chronic sleep problem cases, otherwise referred to as insomnia.
In 1990 a 13 yearlong study was launched in effort to identify all human genes and how they interact; this was meant to serve as the basis for developing cures for all human disease. This project, referred to as the Human Genome Project yielded some surprising results- the scientists discovered that the human body is made up of far fewer genes then previously suspected, and that the genes we do have operate quite differently then we previously believed. More specifically, the scientists discovered that DNA is not static, it is constantly changing in response to your environment, meaning just because you have an ‘Alzheimer’s’ or ‘obesity’ gene for instance, it does not mean you cannot proactively prevent it from being expressed. If this hypothesize is correct then your emotions are at the root of cancer, mental health problems, blood pressure, headaches, forgetfulness, immune system disorders, sleep problems, and indeed every other type of human ailment.